Samira Gutoc: Martial law in Mindanao a failure
MANILA, Philippines — Oposisyon Koalisyon (OK) senatorial bet Samira Gutoc said military rule has failed to deliver social service and justice in Mindanao as she voiced her opposition for its extension.
Gutoc, who hails from Mindanao and was a former member of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, added that martial law was even allegedly being used against civilians.
“Martial law has failed in social service delivery. It has failed to secure justice for most Moro. It is a blunt instrument against a civilian population,” she said.
“Hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples, farmers, Muslims, workers, and other sectors from Mindanao remain displaced and remain prevented from returning to their homes,” she added.
Martial law over the entire Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2018, after terrorists from the Islamic State supported Maute Group occupied Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
Congress had approved the request of President Rodrigo Duterte for two extensions of martial law in Mindanao — until December 2017, and again until December 31, 2018.
The third request for an extension came after the President argued that rebellion is still growing in Mindanao, and that martial law would help end insurgency. If approved, military rule will be extended in Mindanao until the end of 2019.
On Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III has raised the possibility of a joint session to tackle issues regarding the extension of martial law.
Gutoc suggested that national government instead leave the enforcement of peace and order to local government units (LGUs) as the situation is open for abuse of power.
“Martial law belittles the enforcement of local government units and the efforts of civil society groups to attain peace. And the LGUs that demand the extension of martial law should demand it from their own peace and order powers,” the senatorial bet said.
“Martial law also emboldens unscrupulous members of the Armed Forces and PNP to harass those who oppose. Military occupation has also displaced indigenous peoples and Moro people from their ancestral lands,” she noted.
She also asked for the reason behind the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Whatever happened to the goals of the previous extensions of martial law? Why would there be a need for a third extension?” Gutoc asked.
“Does this mean the military failed to achieve its goals or does the government just want full control of its citizens especially with the upcoming elections?” she added. “Filipinos from Mindanao clamor for peace and equal access to social services, not another extension of martial law.” /muf
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